The latest in all things ARCSHS.
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Welcome from the Director

Latest News

Upcoming Events

Research Features: Muscling Up and Gay Conversion Therapy

Resource: Transmission

Opinion: Misogyny in the AFL

Academic Positions Available

Opinion: Restricting Gay Men from Donating Blood is Discrimination

Recent Publications


ARCSHS in the Media

Spring is here!

Spring is finally here, and as usual there are plenty of fresh and exciting projects to go with it.

We are gearing up to celebrate ARCSHS's 25th Birthday, along with La Trobe University's 50th Anniversary next year. In honour of these very special occasions
, we're hosting a Distinguished Lecture Series showcasing senior academics from Australia and abroad discussing contemporary issues in sexuality, health and the social dimensions of human relationships. 

There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved with ARCSHS this quarter. We're not only recruiting for participants in several research projects (see Research Features below) we're also currently recruiting for two academic positions in the ARCSHS team! See academic positions for more details.

As always, thank you for your contribution to - and interest in - our work. I hope you enjoy reading about it. 

Warm regards,

Professor Jayne Lucke
Director, ARCSHS

Research Features

Muscling Up

Muscling Up is an Australian Research Council (ARC) funded Discovery Project (2015-2017) headed by Professor Gary Dowsett, Dr Duane Duncan and Dr Steven Angelidis, and managed by Dr Andrea Waling.

Men’s bodies are increasingly visible in movies, advertising and popular culture, while the bodies of football players and other prominent athletes are routinely celebrated for their appearance. There are increased opportunities for men to style the body with fashion, skincare, weight training and dietary practices, and magazines like Men’s Health promote specific health and lifestyle advice for men.

But what do men think of such imagery and practices? How do every day Australian men relate to these new pressures of attaining a particular type of body?

This project seeks to investigate such questions by exploring men’s views about male body image and fitness practices. The researchers are currently recruiting professional gay, bisexual and heterosexual men aged 25-45 who currently work out at the gym to participate in a one hour interview.

Want to get involved?

Visit the Muscling Up website to find out more about the project and get involved. 


Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice

Legal Responses to ‘Gay Conversion’ Therapy

Very little is known about the nature and extent of ‘gay conversion therapy’ or ‘ex-gay movement’ activities practiced in Australia. In order to better understand and tackle the harm caused by these activities, researchers from ARCSHS, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and the Human Rights Law Centre are conducting pilot research into the history, prevalence and nature of the ex-gay movement in Australia.

This project aims to provide evidence to determine the need for legislative or other measures to inform regulatory and legal reform appropriate to Australia. Find out more about the project here.

Want to get involved?
We are keen to speak to anyone who has experienced ‘gay conversion therapy’, and we're particularly interested in speaking to women, people of colour, trans people, and people from diverse faith backgrounds. You must be 18 years or older to participate in this study.
About the interview

All interviews should take between one and two hours. We recognise that the recollection of experiences of conversion therapy or other ex-gay practices (including the negotiation of religious, sexual and gender identities) are likely to cause discomfort and may cause distress. Before agreeing to participate in this study, you should be confident of your capacity to deal with feelings that your discussion of ex-gay experiences may evoke.

Get in touch
To find out more about this project or find out how to participate, contact Dr Timothy Jones on 03 9479 2366 or

Born Overseas?

The Australian Migrant Happiness Survey

Were you born overseas? Want the chance to win an iPad? Join our national survey as we explore the lives of migrants who were not born in Australia, but have decided to live in Australia.

In this survey we're looking to better understand the experiences of migrants, including their happiness, life satisfaction, and resilience as well as understanding the barriers and obstacles which prevent happiness and cause challenges.

We'll also explore some of the factors most impacted by the migration process, including social support and social capital.

Further, understanding how cultural background influences our adaptation to the new country is explored.
Getting involved

The survey will take at least 30 minutes to complete, and you'll go into the running to win an iPad. The survey is available in English and Chinese. 

To take part in this survey, visit the Born Overseas website

Latest News

The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society proudly presents:

A Distinguished Lecture Series

ARCSHS proudly presents A Distinguished Lecture Series in honour of ARCSHS 25th and La Trobe University’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The lecture series will commence in October 2016 with one lecture per month until late 2017.

Join us for the first lecture of the series on Do Definitions Matter? Data, Law and Decision Making in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights presented by Professor Sofia Gruskin

See upcoming events for more details.

What Works and Why (W3) Project Reports Released

The W3 project was a ground-breaking study to apply systems thinking to understanding the role of peer-led programs in a public health response to HIV and hepatitis C in Australia. 
The findings and reports from Stage 1 (2014-2016) are now available on the W3 project website

In Stage 1 we collaborated with 10 peer-led organisations in Australia working within communities of people who use drugs, gay men, sex workers and people living with HIV across Australia, and we developed a bold new way of conceptualising and demonstrating the role of peer-led programs.

In Stage 2 (2016-2018), W3 will implement the W3 framework across two peer organisations working in HIV and hepatitis C.
For more information, contact Dr Graham Brown.  

New insights to hepatitis B

Understanding the social and cultural experiences of people affected by hepatitis B

ARCSHS Blood Borne Virus Program and Cancer Council Victoria partnered with Hepatitis Australia to deliver a workshop as part of the 2016 National Hepatitis Health Promotion Conference on 18 May 2016 - New insights to hepatitis B: Understanding the social and cultural experiences of people affected by hepatitis B.

ARCSHS’s Jack Wallace was a keynote speaker at the forum. Along with Dr Chris Lemoh, Jack provided an overview of ethical considerations when undertaking research, health promotion and community engagement with people affected by hepatitis B. Jack reflected on work across the blood borne virus sector, highlighting how:
  • HIV gave us the opportunity to understand and talk about the intricacies of sex
  • Hepatitis C gave us the opportunity to understand and talk about the intricacies of injecting drug use, and
  • Hepatitis B is giving us the opportunity to understand and talk about cultural diversity.
Overall, Jack highlighted that understanding the lived experience of hepatitis B requires more than looking at the liver for disease, but to see hepatitis B as a social and cultural disease, shaped by individual, community, public health, clinical services and political spheres.


A new Distinguished Visiting Professor and Ambassador for ARCSHS 

ARCSHS is pleased announce that the Hon Michael Kirby AC has been appointed as a Distinguished Visiting Professor and Ambassador for ARCSHS.

Justice Kirby is a former High Court Judge and champion of human rights. He received an Honorary Doctorate from La Trobe University in 2011, has recently undertaken several inquiries examining human rights violations for the United Nations, and in 2015 he became a member of the Global Fund’s Equitable Access Initiative to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


Do Definitions Matter? Data, Law and Decision Making in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

In honour of ARCSHS 25th and La Trobe University’s 50th anniversary celebrations, ARCSHS presents a Distinguished Lecture Series, with one lecture per month from October 2017 until late 2017.

Join us for the first lecture of the series presented by Professor Sofia Gruskin J.D., MIA, Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Gould School of Law, University of Southern California. Director, Program on Global Health & Human Rights.

Date: Thursday 6 October 2016
Time: 6-7.30pm 

Location: 215 Franklin St, Melbourne 3000
Cost: Free - registration is essential
More details: Visit the ARCSHS website

ARCSHS Course in Health - HIV and hepatitis C Testing
This course in post test counselling is run by ARCSHS several times throughout the year. 

This comprehensive accreditation program is designed to equip participants with appropriate knowledge and skills to engage in pre- and post- HIV and hepatitis C antibody test discussion, and prevention education, in a range of settings. 

Date: Wednesday 9 November until Thursday 17 November 2016    
Location: 215 Franklin St, Melbourne 3000
Cost: $790
More details: Visit the ARCSHS website

16th AHH Conference
Beyond the Culture Wars: LGBTIQ History Now

Join academics, students, community historians and activists to reflect on and discuss the experiences of LGBTIQ people living in and beyond the culture wars.

Date: 25-26 November 2016
Where: 215 Franklin Street, La Trobe University Melbourne
Details: Visit

Resource Feature

Transmission: An Intergenerational Journey

Transmission: An Intergenerational Journey is a new sexuality education resource for teachers focusing on sexual wellbeing and preventing HIV and STI transmission. The resource is designed to support health educators delivering sexual health education in schools.

This resource includes a short film (of the same name) and a range of activities designed to engage young people in discussions regarding their sexual wellbeing. In particular, the activities focus on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Developed by Pam Blackman along with The Lord Mayors fund, this resource is a joint initiative of The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Youthworx and the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society.

View this resource online.



Congratulations go out to the following ARCSHS staff for their notable achievements.

Associate Professor Anthony Lyons for his recently awarded ARC Linkage Project grant: Reducing Health Disparities for Older LGBTI Australians (2016-2019, $296,000), along with co-investigators Catherine Barrett, Victor Minichiello, Mark Hughes, Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, & Gavi Ansara.

Bianca Fileborn who received the Australian & New Zealand Society of Criminology New Scholar Prize for her article Doing gender, doing safety? Young adults’ production of safety on a night out published in Gender, Place and Culture, A Journal of Feminist Geography.

ARCSHS PhD student Michael McDermott for being awarded the 2015 Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives prize for best Honours thesis focussing on LGBTI material.·

Rachel Thorpe who graduated on 26th May. A picture tells a thousand words. Well done Rachel…



The following piece by ARCSHS Associate Professor Sue Dyson was first published on The Conversation, 28 June 2016. 

To eliminate misogyny, the AFL needs social change, not just crisis management

AFL journalist Caroline Wilson may have accepted Collingwood president and MMM radio presenter Eddie McGuire’s apology for saying he’d pay money to watch her drown, but the damage is done.

Footy Show star Sam Newman made things worse when he tried to support his mate Eddie, suggesting that somehow gender equality means that sexist abuse is acceptable. This follows Newman’s 2008 attack on Wilson on Channel Nine’s Footy Show, when he groped a mannequin with a cut-out of Wilson’s face.

There is a clear association between gender inequality and a lack of respect for women. This gives some men the impression that it’s acceptable to sexually assault strangers or be violent in their intimate relationships.

The AFL, and Australian society more broadly, has been trying to tackle this issue for the past decade. So what progress has been made?

The impetus for change in the AFL came after the community backlash against a series of sexual assault allegations against elite players in 2004.

The AFL responded by carefully crafting a Respect and Responsibility policy and anti-sexual harassment and discrimination procedures to change the sport’s culture.

The Respect and Responsibility policy promotes gender equality and the right of everyone in the community to feel safe, respected and valued in the AFL. Since 2006, this has involved rule changes, a respectful relationships education program for elite, state-based and community players, and a six-year culture change program in Victorian community clubs.

Like most companies, the AFL has gone to great lengths to promote itself as a responsible corporate citizen and protect its brand. But culture change involves much more than just brand protection.

The goal of ethical culture change is a consistently positive association between the brand and everything it stands for. Yes, this is a form ofproactive brand management. But it involves consistency rather than reactive, incident-based crisis responses.

Yet when incidents of abuse or sexism emerge, the AFL’s response has been more concerned about reputational damage than a failing of cultural change within the organisation.

Between 2009 and 2012, my colleagues and I researched the implementation of the Respect and Responsibility policy throughout the AFL. We found that all levels of the organisation understood the importance of both their corporate and personal brand, but some competing tensions emerged.

Players are expected to be disciplined, tough, competitive, team players on-field. But off-field they are expected to be ethical bystanders prepared to challenge team-mates’ unacceptable actions should they occur.

For younger or more junior players, this presented a challenge. Some reported they would be unsure, reluctant or uncomfortable to intervene if they thought a team-mate behaved in a way that was out of line with AFL, team or personal expectations.

The primary aim of all clubs is to win games and ultimately premierships. Some AFL players struggle with balancing demands for “hardness” on the field with what some people in the industry consider “softness” off the field.

For younger men, this can work against the goal of ethical culture change and play into a sense of unease about what it means to be a man in relationships with women.

This unease is not helped by the AFL’s response to the likes of McGuire and Newman because the AFL benefits from their role by keeping the game in the media.

Only when the situation blows up does the AFL take a public position, resorting to brand protection through crisis and risk management, rather than using its power to ensure that the values inherent in the Respect and Responsibility policy are reflected in all media associated with the game.

A first step to making Respect and Responsibility a living policy that reflects the AFL in a positive light would be to recognise the ways the organisation benefits from the antics of the likes of McGuire and Newman and intervene to stop their association with the AFL brand unless they change their misogynist behaviours.

The likes of McGuire and Newman are, as media studies professor Catherine Lumby has argued, poster boys for an era that should have ended years ago. Yet they continue to have a powerful influence on others who are uncertain or who share their values about the place of women in society. They represent the tip of an ugly, misogynist iceberg.

Until the AFL is prepared to take a consistent, ethical position on sexism and misogyny in the game, incidents like this will continue to be a problem and contribute to harming the AFL’s brand.

Join the ARCSHS team

Academic positions available

Two new positions have opened up in the ARCSHS team. Both positions are research-only positions for 5 years at Academic Level D with responsibility for the development of key areas of established and emerging research excellence identified in our Strategic Plan. 

Applications for both positions close on Sunday 18 September.

Associate Professor/Principal Research Fellow

This position has primary responsibility for leading the development of internationally recognised research programs in sexuality research with a focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities; health and human rights; qualitative research methodologies; and theoretical fields related to sexuality, gender, health and policy.

Find out more and apply

Associate Professor/Principal Research Fellow

The primary responsibility for this position will be to lead the development of internationally recognised research programs focusing on young people's sexual health and sexuality education.

Find out more and apply


Restricting gay men from donating blood is discriminatory

The following piece by ARCSHS Research Fellow Jennifer Power was first published on The Conversation, 15 June 2016. 

The Orlando massacre has again raised the question of whether it is ethical or sensible to restrict gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

Some of the most moving images coming out of Orlando this week are those of thousands of people queuing to donate blood.

In both the United States and Australia, men are only able to donate blood if they have abstained from sexual contact with another man for 12 months. This effectively places a ban on most gay and bisexual men.

In Australia, a lifetime ban on blood donation by any man who had ever had homosexual sex was introduced in 1983. At this time, Australian states and territories also put in place legislation that made it a criminal offence not to disclose to the blood bank a history of male homosexual contact or injecting drug use.

This ban occurred at a time when HIV testing technology was very new and often unreliable due to an extended “window period” – the lag time between someone contracting HIV and antibodies showing up in a blood test.

But banning gay men from donating blood was also a political move. It allowed governments to demonstrate they were taking action in response to widespread public fears about HIV, much of which were directed toward gay men.

Technology has significantly improved since the 1980s. Today the “window period” for blood testing is conservatively estimated to be around six to 12 weeks. Multiple testing methods are used to comprehensively screen for HIV and other blood-borne infections, meaning the risk of HIV being transmitted via donated blood is less than one in a million.

By 2000, Australian blood donation regulations had been changed to allow for donations by men who had not engaged in homosexual sex for 12 months, generally referred to as a deferral period. The US and the UK have a similar 12-month deferral period, while other countries, including South Africa, have a six month deferral. Some countries, including Argentina, Italy and Spain, have no such bans and rely instead on individual risk assessments.

In 2012, a study commissioned by the Australian Red Cross concluded that, as the vast majority of blood donors are compliant with safety regulations, there would be minimal risks associated with reducing the deferral period for homosexually active men to six months.

Gay men are more likely to contract HIV, but the most conservative window between infection and detection is only 12 weeks. EPA/AAP Christobel Herrera

It is worth noting that in Australia, there are no financial or other incentives to donate blood. Altruistic donation is associated with a safer blood supply.

However, in 2014 the Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) rejected a Red Cross submission to reduce the deferral period citing it would increase the risk of HIV being transmitted through the blood supply without a related increase in donors.

On one hand, this can be seen as the TGA simply taking a cautious stance on the safety of the Australian blood supply.

In 2014, 70% of people newly diagnosed with HIV in Australia had acquired the virus through male-to-male sexual contact. Men who have sex with men are at higher risk of acquiring HIV in Australia.

But the counter argument is that placing restrictions on male-to-male sex reflects discriminatory and misguided attitudes toward gay and bisexual men – positioning them as inherently irresponsible and risky.

A gay man who has been having safe sex, including within a monogamous relationship, is not necessarily at higher risk of acquiring HIV than a woman who has had multiple sexual partners and possibly unsafe sex.

Yet a heterosexual woman is not banned from blood donation because she has had sex. Instead, heterosexual women are trusted to make their own assessment and accurate disclosure of their likely HIV risk. Gay and bisexual men are not.

It is this lack of trust that reveals the subtle (and not so subtle) ways in which homophobia and discrimination plays out.

Gay and bisexual men are not trusted to make responsible decisions about their own, or others', sexual safety. Nor are they trusted to honestly disclose their likely sexual risk. This mistrust stems from a long-term cultural association between gay men, hedonism, irresponsibility and deviance.

The TGA’s unwillingness to reduce the deferral period may be due to concerns that reducing restrictions on blood donation by gay and bisexual men could undermine public confidence in the safety of the blood supply.

Understanding discrimination in the context of blood donation can be complicated because it is not clearly about human rights. One may not necessarily have a “right” to donate blood. It is on these grounds that gay advocacy organisations have been criticised for calling out blood donation bans as discriminatory.

But it is discriminatory to the extent that restricting men who have sex with men from donating blood reflects and reinforces the perspective that gay and bisexual men are unreliable and require strict laws to regulate their actions – laws that are not applied to other groups.

The tragic irony, in the the wake of the Orlando massacre, is that many people directly affected by this homophobic hate crime are prevented from offering help due to regulations that are in place, in large part, due to homophobia.


Check out our top ARCSHS picks for this quarter. For more ARCSHS publications, visit our website.

Fileborn, B. (2016). Participant recruitment in an online era: A reflection on ethics and identity. Research Ethics, 12(2), 97-115.
DOI: 10.1177/

Jones, T. (2016). Education Policies: Potential Impacts & Implications in Australia & Beyond. Journal of LGBT Youth, 13(1-2), 141-160.
DOI: 10.1080/19361653.2015.

Richmond, J., & Mason, S. (2016). C the difference: Exploring the learning strategies used by hepatology nurses in the era of new hepatitis C treatments. Gastrointestinal Nursing, 14(3), 47-57.

Heywood, W., & Lyons, A. (2016). HIV and elevated mental health problems: Diagnostic, treatment, and risk patterns for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress in a national community-based cohort of gay men living with HIV. AIDS and Behavior, 20(8), 1632-1645.
DOI: 10.1007/s10461-

Bariola, E., Lyons, A., & Leonard, W. (2016). Gender-specific health implications of minority stress among lesbians and gay men. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
DOI: 10.1111/1753-6405.

ARCSHS in the Media

Our researchers have opinions, and they're out there on the world wide web. Here are some of our favourites. 

The Nauru files: why don’t we believe? by Bianca Fileborn

When it comes to sexual violence and alcohol, we need to focus on the perpetrator by Bianca Fileborn

Philomena Horsley was quoted in Domestic violence in gay and transgender community neglected in The Age  

Andrea Waling gave an expert interview on men, body image and masculinity in Australia on 'The Hook Up With Hannah Reilly'.

J.R. Latham discussed the discrimination of aging LGBTI people in Equality for all in aged care.
Copyright © 2016 Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University, All rights reserved.

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